In Our Backyard

There is no surer sign of the seasons changing than that of birds migrating. David and I have had the privilege of living in homes on migratory routes. Once, while we were living in Fairfax, Vermont, we had our windows open for the first time in early June. At supper, I heard birds that were different. I said, “David, those are not robins I’m hearing.” Armed with binoculars, we headed outside, and there in the trees all around us were at least a dozen pairs of scarlet tanagers! I don’t know how many of you’ve seen one of those, but if you have, I bet you’ve never forgotten it. Here is what the males look like:

Photo from Duncraft’s Wild Bird Blog

Now we are again living in a place that seems to be a migratory route for many birds. It makes sense, given we live a stone’s throw away from the Connecticut River.

Sunday was a pretty day here in the Pioneer Valley. Here is a photo of what Sugarloaf Mountain looked like from our backyard.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

There is a crabapple tree on the town property right next to our backyard that was attracting lots of birds.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

There was lots of active nature in our backyard on Sunday. We were blessed with some volunteer morning glories. I know they’re invasive, but they sure are pretty.


Photo by David Furlong

There were several species of birds flocking around our house. Grackles were among them.

Photo by David Furlong

And so were a bunch of chipping sparrows. They were scratching in the ground around the compost.  I only got one in the birch tree outside our bedroom window.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

And so were these birds that were just preening and preening, but I could not identify them, even with a pair of binoculars. More chipping sparrows?

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Flying in and among the chipping sparrows were bluebirds. David and I feel like we are being blessed by them when we have a chance to see them. They are so beautiful. David took a shot of one on a fence post, but it was too blurry to share.

While I was out there with my camera, our resident squirrel, the one we call “Rascal” wanted to be noticed, so I took a few pictures of him. Doesn’t he deserve that name? He had a mighty fight with a pair of robins one day, and the next day there was an upside down nest in our yard. David asked me, “Who do you think won that fight?” Poor baby robins, if there were any.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

So, this was all happening in our backyard on Sunday. Then, today we had a whole lot of pairs of bluebirds flying in and around our yard. David got these photos.

Photo by David Furlong


Photo by David Furlong

I would say that Rebecca’s bakery has been blessed. What a great shot… nice going, David! I appreciate these bright spots in this transition between summer and winter, especially on a rainy day.

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8 thoughts on “In Our Backyard”

  1. Katie, now you get to watch a different kind… the snowbirds!

    I agree, the changing seasons are nice. I would not want to live in the heat of Florida in summer. I would wilt.

    But in winter I freeze… so there you have it.

    Katie, I have to tell you that David LOVED your mophead comment the other day. He said, “It’s one thing to be a good photographer, but being an interpreter of the pictures is even more of a gift.”

  2. As a long time backyard birdwatcher I have never had the opportunity to see a scarlet tanager. How lucky you are!
    Cool weather has really hit Maryland, which means an influx of hawks and kestrels in my backyard trying to get at my chickens. Most of the song birds are staying as far away as they can get!
    By the way, I really enjoy following your blog. I was led here from Richard’s site, Amish Stories.
    Your blogs have inspired me to start my own. I would love it if you have the time to stop by!

  3. Great Pictures Saloma, especially the close-up of the scarlet tanager.
    After viewing the picture of the Amish bakery sign, a thought occurred to me. “Rebecca” is technically no longer Amish. But her heart and soul seem to be still connected to her past, which is quite natural and just. We are all products of our environment. I think it’s amazing that one simple adjective can paint a totally different picture in our minds. If the sign were to say simply “Bakery”, I would imagine most people wouldn’t give it a second thought. But insert “Amish” into the sign, and the whole feeling is different. One’s mind conjures images of a simpler, more wholesome lifestyle that carries through to the end product (in this case, baking). It jog’s peoples memories back to their childhood when they would help grandmother with a simple recipe in the kitchen. Consuming these products reinforces our memories of our past and makes us feel in touch with our identity. “English” folk flock to these shops willingly. Inadvertently, we are willing to pay a premium for these products through self rationalization even though the ingredients to make them are right in our own pantries. It is amazing how one little word can make a big difference.

  4. Hey Saloma,
    Nice pictures. I am a professed birdwatcher of which there is no cure. :) A few years ago, I had an orange morph scarlet tanager. It hung around a few days and was fun to see… and hear. They have a beautiful song. Have had several strange birds here in the yard… one being a chickadee/titmouse hybrid. It was here in the yard a few months, several years ago. Had a bird bander come and band it, take DNA, measurements, photos, etc. They’re still doing studies. It’s the first one that’s been banded/DNA-pulled that I’m aware of. Keep those eyes open! You never know what you’ll see.

  5. A lovely post, Saloma! I can’t imagine what it would be like to see so many Scarlet Tanagers in one place. I’m thrilled when I can catch sight of one. Your autumn photographs are especially beautiful! My heart sang with joy when I saw your bluebird images. They are my favorite birds.

    Also, a very gracious thank you for the nice comments you left on my recent blog post. Much appreciated! May you have a delightful fall season.

  6. From where I’m sitting, feet freezing, nose cold, in the midst of a Chicago snowfall (they’re saying 12 inches and from the sounds of the multiple snowplows, I believe it), your pictures look so inviting. The Tanager is incredibly beautiful. I’ve never seen one.

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